Hire Right

Originally published on May 30, 2017 and republished on August 8, 2018 in the Montrose Daily Press.

Hiring is one of the most important decisions we make in business. Employees represent us, challenge us, and ultimately make growth achievable. So how do we go about hiring right? How do we get the right people “on the bus”?

“If someone has those four things — work ethic, taste, integrity and curiosity — I believe that you can learn anything in the world.” – Matt Mullenweg, founder of Wordpress.

Mullenweg certainly has a point. But, how do we determine if a potential employee is hard working, tasteful, honest and curious?

Let’s first examine the types of questions we ask people in interviews. When formulating a slate of interview questions, think first about behavior and second about skills. Instead of Googling “top 10 interview questions,” start by analyzing the type of information you want and build questions that will help you determine it.

Disclaimer: I’m not an HR expert. There are some tactics and tricks I’ve discovered through my research and experience that have proved valuable in achieving some excellent hires. Some of my favorite interview questions are outlined below:

1. Would you rather host a party in your home or be invited to a fabulous party at someone else’s home?

2. When in a social setting, do you prefer working the room or have individual and intimate conversations with just a few people?

3. Do you receive energy from other people or from being alone?

Especially in customer facing service jobs, finding an outgoing individual who will light up the room when interacting with your customers is key.

As you may have guessed, these questions help gauge introversion vs. extroversion. Those who prefer hosting, like working a room and receive energy from being around other people are typically more extroverted in nature. Introverts are wonderful employees in many roles (card carrying introvert right here), but often find themselves forcing that bubbly and outgoing nature extroverts exude without any effort.

4. Have you ever worked as a server or in food service in any capacity?

5. What percentage of employees do you think steal from their employers, including things like pens, envelopes, etc?

6. Everyone lies, even if just to themselves. Tell me about a time when you were caught in a lie and how you learned from it.

Though not always true, people who have worked in the food service industry for an extended period of time understand hard work and typically have strong customer service skills already built in.

Question five is quite tricky. People usually make estimates based on their own experiences. A person who has never stolen from an employer will mostly likely guess a very low percentage, whereas the opposite may be true of someone who regular takes home office supplies, runs personal errands on company time, etc. Question six is an honesty test two-fold. We’ve all learned a lesson about lying even if it was as a child. If your interviewee tells you otherwise, throw the caution flag. Hiring people who willingly admit mistakes is far better than hiring a person who is “so honest they’ve never told a lie in their whole life.”

7. How many seconds are in a year?

8. Tell me about the best training experience you had in a previous position.

9. Describe someone you consider to be a great leader.

Question seven isn’t about math skills. It instead shows resourcefulness. After all, you never said they couldn’t use their phone, ask you for the answer, and hash it out on paper. Further, it demonstrates their problem solving ability under pressure.

When your interviewee describes their best training experience, it will give you information on the type of learner they are. This type of question does not require a right or wrong answer, but may reveal initiative as well as expectation. For example, someone may tell you their favorite training experience was when they were given a computer, an office, a loose job description and set free to figure it out on their own. These type of people are going to be your self-starters.

Question nine will show you what your potential employee aspires toward. If they don’t have an answer for the question, that may also demonstrate a lack of curiosity or discovery.

Hiring is a very tricky process. Much like any relationship, rushing into it rarely turns out well. Always ask for second or even third interviews. Invite people from inside and outside the organization as panelists in your interviews and seek their honest opinion.

Research your candidate on Google, Facebook, Instagram, etc. Do not be afraid of doing a little “stalker” on these people. After all, if they’re okay with putting questionable content on the internet where you can find it, you may consider their judgement in the workplace. This goes back to the “taste” we discussed previously.

If you see something displeasing in an interview, take note. Those types of things will only get worse the farther into an employment relationship you get.

Finally, when you think you’ve made your choice, first go home and sleep on it. Revisit the decision in the first 60 to 90 minutes after waking the next day.

Though this process may seem lengthy and a little weird, it is worth it. No amount of money or technology can replace a valuable employee. If you want all 31,536,000 seconds of the year ahead to pass like a breeze, hire right.

Chelsea Rosty is the executive director of the Montrose Chamber of Commerce and director of Business Innovation for the City of Montrose. Contact her at chelsea@montrosechamber.com.